|Knock this one off of the Race Bucket List|
I'm not quite sure why this race was such a big deal for me. I guess growing up in the Springfield area I've always heard about it. Living in the land of Honest Abe, I've always had to participate or visit virtually every site which is even remotely related to our 16th President. Plus, how much better could it get? The race starts at the Illinois State Fairground out the main gates around Lincoln Park and through Oak Ridge Cemetery (Abe's final resting place) and then back to the fairgrounds. I could combine all of my passions: Genealogy, History and Physical Fitness.
Because of my newly found nutrition awareness, I arrived at the fairgrounds armed with a water bottle and a banana. In the last couple of months, I've run two different hilly races and wound up with cramps in my calves at Steamboat Classic and hamstrings at the Lakeland Bi-Tri Classic. Because I knew Abe's Amble was also a hilly race, I brought the water bottle to get nice and hydrated and banana for the nutrition - and the extra bonus of potentially controlling my blood sugar.
Awesome Cheryl & I arrived at 7 am with plenty of time to make a pit stop. We like to laugh at all of the hard core runners who are warming up jogging up and down the fairway. Us? We just walk and talk and watch people. We found ourselves a nice middle-of-the-pack starting spot and with 5 minutes before the state of the race, I ate my banana. I hoped the banana would provide enough fuel in my system and prevent my liver from doing a dump at the 30 minute mark.
Being fancy people like all people of the Land of Lincoln are, we didn't have a gun to start the race. I vaguely heard a "GO!" and the herd started moving. I set my start time as I crossed the chip timing mats and we were off.
I started the race feeling pretty good. It was pretty packed and I couldn't set my own pace. I had to let the 1,100 other runners around me set it for me. After a short while we could move a little better. The first mile to mile and a half I stayed with Awesome Cheryl. At about 1.7 miles, I started up my first hill and that's when I felt a large burn in my stomach. I've come to the conclusion that these occasional burns that I feel are when my liver does a glucose dump. I've noticed in my various triathlons that I feel a burn when I ingest a Hammer Gel. It's my theory that the sudden dump of sugar into my system creates the burning sensation. Up that hill is when I lost Awesome Cheryl.
The route went through a small portion of a Springfield neighborhood. As I was crossing the 2nd mile marker, I heard police sirens. I said a little prayer hoping everyone was ok - and then realized it was the police escort for the race leader who was heading back to the finish line. Now tell me that wasn't demoralizing? Here I have just finished my big push up this gargantuan hill trying to catch my breath when the race leader passes me. He's finished 4 miles while I have only finished 2 - in 20:08. I know I am not fast, but that really put me in my place. The gentleman behind me was kindly calling out "1st Place Awesome. 2nd Place Go Get him. 3rd Place Keep it up........1st place ladies". I wondered if he was going to continue this through the entire event. What would he be saying when he got to me? "1000th place....keep moving. Don't stop now."
One of my pet peeves in racing is people who walk run. Don't ask me why. Actually, I'll tell you why. Because I am competitive and in my mind I am thinking "Oh look at the walker. They must be having a tough day. They should just be happy to be out here competing in this event.".....and then about the time I catch up to them they start running and pull away from me. Grrrr. The last 2 miles I had a couple of people who were driving me crazy with this...walk, run, walk, run. Don't make me mad now. I'll have to unleash the power of my incredible legs and squash you at the finish with my faster than a jack rabbit sprint.
During the final two miles, I came back to that hill where I think my body did a liver dump - and I had to back up that mule. About half way up, I decided to walk to the top. I still had fears of cramping in my head and decided it would be worth it to not push it up the hill if I could keep my kick at the end. I set a target on where I would start running again and I was off. Before you knew it, I was back on the fairgrounds heading to the grandstand.
And wouldn't you know it.
The lady in the green shorts.
She was twice my age.
She was a walk-runner and you know I can't stand that.
AND she was about 100 yards in front of me as we hit the 6 mile mark of what turned out to be a 6.3 mile run.
That was the motivation I needed. I wasn't going to let some old hag in baggy green shorts beat me. Oh no. Not today. The final 0.3 mile went from a 10-minute mile to a 6:31 pace. Yah, I've still got it. I just need to work on the mental attitude in the middle. That is where I fall short.
I finished the race in 1:04.58, an average 10:29 pace. Considering the amount of hills, I was pretty happy with that. I finished 480 overall (HEY! I beat over half of the runners. Wow, just realized that.), 193/590 women, 24/72 in my age group.
Awesome Cheryl - being the awesome athlete that she is - finished in 57:40, an average 9:18 pace. 305 overall, 95/590, and 17/84 in her age group. See? I told you she was awesome.
After the race, we walked for a minute or two and went to buy some ice cold water. #1 Problem with Abe's Amble - the water wasn't cold, but I guess when you consider they are serving 1,100 runners I shouldn't complain, aye? We decided we didn't need to stick around for the awards and walked back to my car. When I got there, I was quite horrified to realize that my blood sugar was soaring at an awful 350! I hate half a banana and checked my blood sugars an hour later. Back down to a better range of 117.